36 votes

Banks Say No to Marijuana Money, Legal or Not

By Serge F. Kovaleskijan
From the front page of this Sunday's New York Times:

In his second-floor office above a hair salon in north Seattle, Ryan Kunkel is seated on a couch placing $1,000 bricks of cash — dozens of them — in a rumpled brown paper bag. When he finishes, he stashes the money in the trunk of his BMW and sets off on an adrenalized drive downtown, darting through traffic and nervously checking to see if anyone is following him.

Despite the air of criminality, there is nothing illicit in what Mr. Kunkel is doing. He co-owns five medical marijuana dispensaries, and on this day he is heading to the Washington State Department of Revenue to commit the ultimate in law-abiding acts: paying taxes. After about 25 minutes at the agency, Mr. Kunkel emerges with a receipt for $51,321.

“Carrying such large amounts of cash is a terrible risk that freaks me out a bit because there is the fear in my mind that the next car pulling up beside me could be the crew that hijacks us,” he said. “So, we have to play this never-ending shell game of different cars, different routes, different dates and different times.”

Mr. Kunkel and his business partner, Mr. Berman, left. David Ryder for The New York Times
Legal marijuana merchants like Mr. Kunkel — mainly medical marijuana outlets but also, starting this year, shops that sell recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington — are grappling with a pressing predicament: Their businesses are conducted almost entirely in cash because it is exceedingly difficult for them to open and maintain bank accounts, and thus accept credit cards.


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Looks like a good investment

Looks like a good investment opportunity to me.

All you need is a safe, some guns, and a set of cajones to tell the feds get f'd

Taxes are theft

Reading through all the comments below, it is amazing that no one mentions this little detail at all.. taxes are theft. So he is risking being robbed on his way to being "legitimately" robbed, like a good little slave. Why is he voluntarily being stolen from if he does business in cash? Why doesn't he just say that he didn't make anything to avoid being stolen from? Or is it the protectionism of mafia government that makes his profits so high, so he's okay giving a kickback, so that he can keep his exclusive racket going? He's got to pay for his license and pay for the police salaries that will cage anyone else trying to grow and sell this plant, and bring the cost way down...after all, it is just a plant. This whole thing stinks to high heaven... people making a fortune over a plant, because it has been made "illegal" by some politician scribbles.... makes me sick. He is making money immorally, using government thugs to maintain his exclusive sales agreement, so it is no wonder he fears being robbed. I had some chamomile tea last night, and it relaxed me... sure glad the cartel hasn't outlawed that yet... otherwise you'd all be calling it medical chamomile, and I wouldn't be able to afford it.

Here's a 10 minute video that explains it better:

At what point

do we en masse say we have had enough of this? How do we go about changing it? Many of us realize the problems. I could point them out all day long. So where are the brilliant solutions to these quandaries?

They should call the CIA and ask what bank they use.

I forget, was it BofA or Wells Fargo that laundered their cocaine money?
No bank would forgo legitimate deposits like these unless there was government pressure of some kind.

If banks say no to you...

If banks say no to you then say no to the banks. Make it a bitcoin only business.

Screw the banks. As long as you do nothing illegal

Then keep the money out of their pockets. They only want laundered cartel drug money anyway.

State Dept of Revenue should volunteer to help

This is part of the bigger issue of what to do with all the cash. Banks won't let them open accounts in which to deposit it.

The Dept of Revenue ought to take in all their cash for payment of tax, and rebate on the spot in the form of a check any cash turned in in excess. That way, they can deposit a check drawn from the Colorado Treasury.

As far as transporting the money across town--seems like the job for a bonded/insured courier. He's risking the money and his life on this driving adventure.

Take back the GOP and Restore America Now.

Proof that free-market alternatives are squashed.

How many ounces of flowers does and ounce of gold buy?

Back in 1970 an ounce of gold for and fat ounce of pot.

I can get an ounce of pipe tobacco for a silver dime ($1.40).

If the State didn't regulate the market, these guys wouldn't have the problems of big bags of money.

In some parts Indiana it's a ditchweed.

Free includes debt-free!


This is a perfect opportunity to educate people that we are more content now than ever to exchange goods and services for the most raw form of currency available. If it werent for the banks today, businesses would be hurt from accepting credit as payment from someone they never meet.

The case for Gold is simply this. Humans will always accept the most readily storage of wealth in exchange for goods and services.

His name is Edward Snowden

What is Capitalism?

Offshore it

If the Fed doesn't want to play ball and is not interested in collecting taxes in a legitimate manner from a legal company and bankers are afraid then to hell with them - offshore it.

I am sure a banker in the Cayman's would be happy to assist. From there move it into gold and real estate.

"One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas" Victor Hugo

Screw that, trade your cash

Screw that, trade your cash for bitcoins, and start accepting them as payment. Who needs a @$%@ing bank!? its high time to put those corrupt institutions into obsoletion once and for all.

These guys never heard of Loomis or Wells Fargo?

I'm sure they'd have no issue taking that contract.

michcrow's picture

I agree

I agree. The whole thing seems silly. Brinks is another company that does that sort of thing.

Two shorten the road.

Do they not

have armored car services to transport all that cash ?

Ron Swanson


Marijuana Bank of America.

"Necessity is the mother of invention."

Never be afraid to ask simple questions.

Idea of the month

Combine the MBA with freelakotabank.com
... then fusion w/ new 7 metal currency

7th generation impacts weighed by the elders

{ respect your elders }

Credit Union

Create an industry credit union.

"One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas" Victor Hugo

robot999's picture

These "Banks" only

want to deal with the CRIMINALS - like themselves to launder the (CIA/FBI/DEA...) drug money (like HSBC).

"Government is the entertainment division of the military-industrial complex". - Frank Zappa


This makes no sense. Here in California I can go into any club and use cash, credit or ATM. Hell in SF they have vending machines like RedBox.

Why not just get a square card reader and set up a bank account in California. Heck, you can even open up a Chinese bank account. Route all square transactions to that account.

And if he still needs to transport large amounts of money, why does he not rent a Brinks truck to pick up the cash and drive it over to the tax man?

Why even use a bank?

I would keep some cash to pay bills with cash and money orders and I would trade some of the cash for bullion.Then I would
put it in a big safe.Then I would have security cameras installed everywhere.I would also insure it all through my homeowners insurance.If I still felt I needed more security I would hire a security guard for the time I am away.Anything the banks can do you can do.

There is a guy that goes to

There is a guy that goes to my bank. I have seen him come in twice and both times he carried a brown paper bag. Inside was wads of cash. I mean if you stacked this cash, it would have 3-6 inches high. Dont know what he was depositing for but if I ever see him a third time I will try and ask.
Thats just a little story that only has to do with cash.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

Banks only launder money for Mexican and Columbian cartels

legit dispensaries are eating into their profits, the trillion+ dollars of drug money wall street launders every year. Most of this ends up in black budget programs... They're not going to help anyone chip away at their racket. Rockefeller's believe competition is a sin.


"Take hold of the future or the future will take hold of you." -- Patrick Dixon

I'd be more worried about the

I'd be more worried about the hijackers in blue

Another Obama Scandal in the works.

I would bet money the administration is behind this.

It would take one man....

Or group of men to be able to discern the truth about the health and happiness they would bequeath upon this Earth. Release the hounds!!!

Boycott FDIC banks

Close all accounts. Drop out of this fraud. Withdraw all consent.

we will not comply

Who's gonna be the first to

Who's gonna be the first to open a bank that accepts this cash money . That will be a promising bank!


Exactly...!! What A Great Opportunity...!!!

Banks have a lot of hoops to jump through before they become one, but what about a Credit Union? To be one of those, there are a number of hoops also, but probably more do-able than a bank.

A credit union is a member-owned financial cooperative, democratically controlled by its members. The people who run the maryjane stores can come together and form a Credit Union. Of course with the help and guidance of someone who's been there done that.

Why would anyone want to bank their money considering

The banks are criminals.

These guys should purchase some stash furniture then change that money into gold and silver and stash it away in their own homes.

Screw the banks!

“I have joined your revolution and I’m proud to be part of what you want to do.” - Ron Paul

I find this hard to believe

There must be many global banks that will work with this industry. So what if Citibank and chase will not. working around them could be a way to build a strong alternative system - this seems more like a real opportunity.

Maybe someone like this - http://www.freelakotabank.com/